Marius Vizer quits as SportAccord chief amid backlash to IOC attack

Former SportAccord president Marius Vizer's verbal barrage at the IOC has put the umbrella body's future in doubt. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

LONDON -- Marius Vizer resigned as president of the umbrella body for international sports federations on Sunday, delivering a defiant rebuke to the critics who drove him out after his attacks on the International Olympic Committee.

Vizer defended his position and said he was the one who had the "courage" to speak out as head of SportAccord, which represents Olympic and non-Olympic federations.

"Everything I proposed is right and I hope to have opened a door that had been closed for a century, and I hope it remains open forever for the benefit of sport and its values," he said in his resignation statement.

Vizer had been left increasingly isolated since blasting the IOC and president Thomas Bach in a speech at the SportAccord convention in Sochi, Russia, last month.

Among other things, Vizer called the IOC system "expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent" and said Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform program was of little use to the federations.

Last week, Vizer sent Bach a letter with his own 20-point "reform agenda," which included introduction of prize money in the Olympics and a 50 percent share for the federations in the IOC's new Olympic television channel.

Vizer's departure had appeared inevitable. About two dozen federations had withdrawn or suspended their membership in SportAccord in protest, and Peruvian organizers had pulled out of hosting Vizer's World Combat Games in 2017.

"We have been informed of the resignation," the IOC said Sunday. "We will continue our on-going work and consultation with the international federations and other members of the Olympic Movement. The topic will be discussed at the IOC executive board next week."

Among the bodies that had cut ties with Vizer were the two associations representing the summer and winter sports in the Olympics. He also lost the support of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the powerful president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

Some federations had indicated they would consider breaking away from SportAccord and forming their own organization.

Vizer, who remains as president of the international judo federation, took over as SportAccord chief in 2013, succeeding former cycling federation president Hein Verbruggen. He immediately came into conflict with the IOC, particularly over his plans to launch a United World Championship for all sports federations every four years, a potential rival to the Olympics.

"I did try to collaborate with the IOC in the two years of my mandate, submitting them numerous proposals for collaboration between the two organizations, but these were always rejected without any plausible explanation," Vizer said Sunday. "My door has always been open for collaboration, theirs was always closed."

The Romanian-born Austrian said he had risked his life and his family's life when he emigrated from a communist nation in 1988 in order to live in a world that protected freedom of speech.

"In this past month it was proven that in the free world there are, still, higher structures where the supreme value is silence!" he said in his statement.

Vizer also resigned as a member of the IOC's coordination commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His name was still on the list of commissions announced earlier Sunday by Bach.

Vizer thanked "all those who supported me and believed and still believe in me, in the values I proposed and I defend."

"I withdraw with honor and for the honor of sport, its credibility in society, and I hope that one day sport becomes a completely transparent system, a moral code and a model for society," he said.